Tyson Adams

Putting the 'ill' back in thriller

Archive for the tag “Book review”

Book review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent (Divergent, #1)Divergent by Veronica Roth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I bought this book for my wife when it first came on sale. When she finished reading the book she was immediately asking me when the sequel was being released – a year later, of course. So considering that this trilogy has been finished and the movie has already been released, it shows just how long my TBR list is that I’ve only gotten to this one now (even then, only as the audiobook).

There is something refreshing about a young author writing young adult novels. And it is enjoyable to have a good mix of action, introspection, character development, and social commentary. Some have criticised the five factions, that are the basis of the story’s society, as unrealistic…. Because wars over fuel would never happen in reality – the criticism levelled at Mad Max. What I’m saying is that people making this criticism have kinda missed the point being made.

Definitely worth a read, even for non-YA fans.

NB: This cool cover art was the reason I originally bought the book. I knew nothing about it, except that the cover looked cool and the blurb sounding like it would appeal to my wife. Cover art is really important (for me at least).

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Book review: The Persona Protocol by Andy McDermott

The Persona ProtocolThe Persona Protocol by Andy McDermott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Something a little bit different from Andy McDermott with Persona Protocol; different in that Nina and Eddie aren’t being shot at in this one. But there is still plenty to enjoy about this techno-spy-thriller, not starring Nina and Eddie, but instead Adam and Bianca take over the being shot at duties.

Andy again delivers his mix of breakneck pacing and humour that are the reason I enjoy his books so much. I think this departure from the Nina and Eddie series of archaeological adventures (is it still archaeology if they destroy most of the stuff they find?) is every bit as good, and I hope to see more of these departures from Andy.

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Book Review: Gotham Central Vol 1 by Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka

Gotham Central, Vol. 1: In the Line of DutyGotham Central, Vol. 1: In the Line of Duty by Ed Brubaker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

With the new TV series Gotham currently being cast there has been a bit of buzz around what the storyline is going to be about. Unfortunately it is not going to be based upon this excellent series by Brubaker and Rucka (should also mention the art by Michael Lark). This would actually be a great way to do a non-Batman series, especially as it would be able to use the recent Nolan films as a lead in.

I guess people who read will be the only ones to appreciate a series focussed on Gotham city police trying to work in the shadow of Batman.

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Book review: The Tournament by Matthew Reilly

The TournamentThe Tournament by Matthew Reilly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Just about everyone has already commented how this novel is a departure for Matthew Reilly. It’s still unmistakably a Matthew Reilly novel, but instead of a thriller, this is a mystery novel.

Whilst this was an enjoyable novel, I can’t rate it as highly as his others. The key to enjoying the change in Reilly’s murder mystery cum chess tournament is to remember this is a mystery and not a thriller. Seriously, some of the reviews I’ve seen sound like they were expecting Scarecrow to time travel back at any moment and start shooting mutant monkeys, and were annoyed when that didn’t happen.

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Book Review: The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

The Shining GirlsThe Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I met Lauren two years ago now, when she was running a class on writing (d’uh). This first sentence of the review is essentially a name drop… move along, nothing to see here.

The Shining Girls is such an interesting take on crime novels, with a wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey*, plot and some fascinating story telling. Lauren has an interesting setup for the serial killer and his victim protagonist, a setup that you hope has a good payoff. Well, it doesn’t have a good payoff, in the final pages it has an excellent payoff.

The version I ‘read’ was the audiobook, which is worth mentioning because there were multiple narrators to take on the various points of view used in the book. This was a great touch that I wish more audiobooks would do. For a complex novel like The Shining Girls, it is almost necessary. I can say I have stopped listening to at least two audiobooks in the past year that probably would have been improved with multiple narrators to clarify changes in points of view. Or you could just read the novel the old fashioned way, just not whilst driving, or using a table saw, as I was able to with the audio version.

* If you don’t get that reference I pity your TV viewing habits.

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Book Review: The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

The Strain (The Strain Trilogy, #1)The Strain by Guillermo del Toro
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I bought this novel after watching the fantastic Pan’s Labyrinth. If you haven’t watched that movie, do so now. In fairness though, this novel has more in common with Del Toro’s contribution to the Blade series of movies than it does to Pan’s Labyrinth.

This is another take on the viral outbreak thriller, thankfully it doesn’t take it down the path of zombies, as most recent novels in this genre have done. Non-sparkly vampires are back!

The only disappointment for me was that this was definitely the first instalment in a trilogy and felt a little more unfinished than I’d have liked. The writing is very reminiscent of Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s Prendergast series. Worth a read for horror and thriller fans.

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Book review: Zero at the Bone by David Whish-Wilson

Zero at the BoneZero at the Bone by David Whish-Wilson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I know it is only early into November, but I think I’ve read the best book of the year. But don’t just take my word for it, Angela Savage thinks so too. That isn’t to say you can’t take my word for it. I’m trust-worthy. Honest.

David has set himself a huge task: setting a crime novel in the sleepy city of Perth Western Australia and making the hard-boiled-thriller work. Let’s just say that I’m glad I was too young to experience the Perth David has crafted in Zero at the Bone.

If you read Angela’s review, she has summed up the story and highlighted David’s skilled writing. I’ve previously discussed David’s previous novel, Line of Sight, as being a great novel; this one is even better.

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Book Reviews: Velocity by Steve Worland

Velocity (Judd Bell & Corey Purchase, #1)Velocity by Steve Worland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Whenever there is a new thriller author on the block, especially if they are Australian, there is always someone drawing a comparison to Matthew Reilly. You can just about guarantee that this comparison will be drawn by someone who hasn’t read Matthew Reilly’s books or hasn’t read the new author’s book/s. Finally there is an author with whom this comparison is valid.

Well worth the read.

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Book Review: Arctic Floor by Mark Aitken

Arctic FloorArctic Floor by Mark Aitken
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There is nothing quite like a marketing executive, especially when they work in publishing. These are the people who come up with the fantastic ideas like: dog on the cover because dogs sell books, no dogs in the book; bright and cheery cover art, book about a serial killer; quotes recommending the book by famous authors, authors that have the same publisher. In this case the marketing department came up with a brilliant idea: Matthew Reilly is an Australian author who sells a lot of books, let’s mention him on the cover, despite the fact that the two authors write in a completely different style.

I grabbed Mark’s book from my local library because I saw he had a new book out, the third in a series, and I hadn’t heard of him previously. A fellow Aussie author, with a comparison to Matthew Reilly on the cover: this should be gold. Needless to say, the marketing people drew me in with false advertising. Mark’s book is a thriller and was a decent read, but he was more Cussler or Archer than Reilly. In fact, I was more reminded of Sahara (swap baking temperatures for freezing cold) than I was of Ice Station.

False advertising aside, this is quite a decent thriller. Worth a read, if you are after a James Rollins or Clive Cussler style novel. I’d expect later books in this series will probably “grab” the reader more, so maybe check out Mark’s new one.

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Book Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone GirlGone Girl by Gillian Flynn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I normally hate literary styles books. They normally take all the fun stuff out of the book and replace it with tedious exposition masquerading as deep and meaningful prose. Award winning books are usually weighed down with this superfluous fluff.

This is a harsh statement, I know. Just because a book has won a literary award that doesn’t mean it has to suck. But it all comes back to some training I had in communication sciences at university. No-one cares about the methods, or process, or how long you spent doing this, and especially not how much research you did, they only care about what’s in it for them. Boil that down to a simple: readers are reading your book to be entertained. So all of that exposition is just getting in the way of entertaining the reader.

Gone Girl is as close to a literary styled novel I have read (to completion) in almost a decade. I used to read persevere with them all the time, now I have learnt my lesson. What makes Gillian’s book different is that she hasn’t forgone the plot, nor drawn out the story. So fans of crime novels will be captivated and literary fans might admit they need to read more genre books.

I put this novel off for a long time, buying it because of all the rave reviews and awards, then hearing it was very literary and baulking. I can see why this novel has been the big thing of 2012, it deserves the praise.

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Book Review: Ice Force by Matt Lynn

Ice Force (Death Force, #4)Ice Force by Matt Lynn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Don’t you hate it when you can’t look past a minor flaw? It’s like Tom Cruise with Scientology, Jim Carey dating Jenny McCarthy, Liam Neeson appearing in that woeful Star Wars film and babies with their lack of personal hygiene. If it wasn’t for these minor flaws you could really enjoy what is before you, especially if you didn’t get sick of Jim Carey years ago.

There is a lot to like about Matt Lynn’s Ice Force, especially if you like the “real operation” styled thrillers that Chris Ryan and Andy McNab write. Matt differs from the others in this style with his humorous banter between the characters, something I really like to see in novels, something I am trying to do with my own writing. So what is it that I’m hung up on? The misogyny.

Now, I’m not saying that this book and the writer are misogynistic, rather I’m saying that there is a tone stated by some of the characters that women aren’t good at soldiering, that they distract men from the soldiering and that they are generally just eye candy. This is typical bloke-y fare that you get with the military and men talking at the pub who hate to admit that they are not in charge in their relationship. It may be “real” but I really don’t like reading it.

It reminds me of a cartoon:
how_it_works

So, this was a great thriller, but points off for marginalising women.

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Book Review: First Drop by Zoe Sharp

First Drop (Charlie Fox Thriller, #4)First Drop by Zoë Sharp
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As a new dad, there are a few sentiments expressed by Charlie Fox – the hero – about kids that feel spot on. There is nothing more annoying than a baby interrupting you reading a good book, especially during the final 50 pages! The annoying kid Charlie was protecting rang a little too true for me.

Zoe has certainly got all the right thriller ingredients. But she has also managed to mix them together into a great blend that is interesting and exciting. From go to arrhythmia, there is no let up, with Charlie trying to stay alive and figure out who isn’t trying to kill her. If I had one quibble, it was with a chance encounter that was rather important to the plot, I would have preferred it to be done a little different. But then again, I forgive this in Lee Child, Zoe is no less a writer, so it is an easily overlooked point.

If you haven’t read any of the Charlie Fox thrillers, do so soon.

NB: This review was written whilst trying to calm a baby who hadn’t slept all day and was having the grumps.

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Book review: Assassin by Tara Moss

Assassin (Makedde Vanderwall, #6)Assassin by Tara Moss
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Trying to read with a newborn in your arms is tricky. You try to get them to sleep and then realise you haven’t been reading all of that time. You try to feed them and realise that Zaphoid was right, a third arm does come in handy. This all adds up to making it hard to enjoy a good book.

The fact that I did enjoy this book shows just how good it was, because my reading has been very interrupted. Mak is back in what appears to be the finale in the Vanderwall series. Since the last book, Mak has been hiding out in Spain, but it isn’t long before assassins get wind of her location and she is headed back to Australia.

If this is the end of the series (I’m going by the novel, I haven’t heard Tara mention anything on this) then I think it ended appropriately. Some authors, TV shows and musicians drag out a series for too long. Tara has avoided that nicely. Now the only question is, will she continue in the crime genre, or will her paranormal novels be the focus now?

NB: This was a signed copy. Book fans may appreciate that detail.

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Book Review: A Wanted Man by Lee Child

A Wanted Man (Jack Reacher, #17)A Wanted Man by Lee Child
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book arrived on my doorstep from the lovely people at Booktopia, just in time for me to read over the weekend. Unfortunately last weekend also coincided with the arrival of my son, damn stork was early, so my reading was interrupted. Normally a Reacher adventure can’t be put down, but my new bub showed that sometimes you have to.

Reviewing Lee’s new novel is hard, my interrupted reading, sleep deprivation and cuddle time has clouded my impression of the book. Reacher still kicked arse, the story was decent and Lee’s characteristic tight plotting was on display.

I’m only giving this 4 stars for now, with the intention of re-reading it sometime after I’ve had a decent nights sleep.

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Book Review: Long Lost by Harlan Coben

Long Lost (Myron Bolitar, #9)Long Lost by Harlan Coben
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is my first Harlan Coben book and I’m not sure what to think. Well, I know what to think, how to think and thinking is something I like to do to keep me from watching reality TV. My opinion of this book, however, is rather undecided.

Myron seems like an interesting enough character, the character of Win is a scene stealer, and the mystery is interesting enough. About half-way through the book, the pace picks up and things change around a bit. Even so, I’m still left unsure as to whether I enjoyed the book or not.

I think this may be that this book is number nine in the series and is written with Myron fans in mind, rather than fresh readers. As such, the Myron character feels a little flat and sappy. It might also be that the plot twist is a little improbable and pointless – as another reviewer pointed out, using an expensive procedure rather than just kidnapping is a bit silly.

Might have to try one of the earlier Myron Bolitar novels to see if I enjoy Harlan’s work.

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Book Review: Stalking the Angel by Robert Crais

Stalking The Angel (Elvis Cole, #2)Stalking The Angel by Robert Crais

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

A good book shouldn’t take any effort to read. The second Elvis Cole adventure is definitely an effortless read. The wit and plot flow seamlessly and make it easy to forget lunch.

The only thing I really have to say about this book is that I’m looking forward to reading the next instalment in the series.

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Book Review: Blood Moon by Gary Disher

Blood Moon (Inspector Challis, #5)Blood Moon by Garry Disher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m known for being on the cutting edge, for having my finger on the pulse; for example, I just bought a smart phone. It isn’t really surprising to learn that I’ve only recently discovered Gary Disher’s work, despite him having been an award winning author since before I entered highschool.

The first novel I read of Gary’s was Wyatt, after hearing him speak at the Sydney Writers’ Festival. I enjoyed that novel and now have plenty of good novels to catch up on.

This is my first Challis and Destry novel set in a small seaside town in Victoria Australia. It follows the assaults, rapes, murder and sex lives that keep the local police busy. The intertwining characters and investigations are deftly handled by Gary to give an engaging crime novel.

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Book Review: The Running Man by Stephen King

The Running ManThe Running Man by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have so much admiration for Stephen King. There are few authors who have managed to be as enduring and successful as he has. The Running Man is a great example of his ability to write an enthralling novel outside of his normal genre.

I’m a very late addition to the Stephen King appreciation society. I blame the movie IT. Scared the crap out of me as a kid and made me fear reading King novels. I’m a big boy now so I’ve started to buy up a few of his books (ebooks and DTB)and will be diligently reading them.

Which one should I read next?

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Book Review: One Shot by Lee Child

One Shot (Jack Reacher, #9)One Shot by Lee Child
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There is something really great about Lee Child’s novels. There is also something about Jack Reacher that we all just know Tom Cruise is not going to be able to deliver on screen.

The last book I read took me 10 days to read. That is a long time for a thriller. This one took me 2 days to read. Clearly Lee serves up a more engaging and involving story, a novel that I will actually make excuses to stay up and read, rather than check my email and go to bed.

It will be interesting to see how Tom Cruise and Hollywood adapt this story for the big screen. This isn’t the sort of plot that would be easy to adapt unless you left half of it out. Not that I would accuse Hollywood of butchering just about every book to movie project they have every done. Never.

Read this one before Cruise brings his step-ladder and this novel to the big screen in December.

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Book Review: Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

Jurassic ParkJurassic Park by Michael Crichton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Is Michael Crichton always this preachy?

This is the second Crichton thriller I have read and the second time I have come away noticing his anti-science rants and preachy tone. This time the anti-science diatribe was delivered by the character of Malcolm, who only seems to be in the book for his chapter long anti-science rant. I’ve heard Crichton is even worse with this novel State of Fear.

The book itself is a decent techno-thriller. It was enjoyable and moved along swiftly. One thing I did notice, though, was a tendency to weigh the story down with details. I didn’t really need to know what lines of computer code came up on the screen unless it was relevant – it wasn’t. I didn’t really need to see the DNA sequence typed out.

So you can see that I was less than impressed with Crichton again. The book was entertaining, but from this scientist’s point of view, Crichton should have spent more time writing and less time preaching.

Also, before anyone comments, yes, I am aware that this is fiction. The perils of scientific meddling have always been the cornerstone of sci-fi and techno-thrillers. There is a difference between the “what if” fictional supposition and the “look at my reference list and opinions spouted as facts” tact Crichton uses. Fiction is meant to be fun, not didactic.

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